On the second day of the siege, she decided she needed some fresh air- really, the scent of all those flowers was positively cloying- so Miranda picked up her bonnet and headed out to the nearby Queen Street Garden.
Turner began to follow her immediately. He had not been jesting when he had told her that he was keeping her house under surveillance. He had not bothered to mention, however, that he wasn't hiring professionals to keep watch. His poor beleaguered valet had that honor, and after eight straight hours of staring out the window, he was much relieved when the lady in question finally departed, and he could abandon his post.
Turner smiled as he watched Miranda make her way to the park with quick, efficient steps, then frowned when he realized that she had not taken a maid along with her. Edinburgh was not as dangerous as London, but surely a gentle lady did not venture out by herself. This sort of behavior would need to stop once they were married.
And they would get married. End of discussion.
He was, however, going to have to approach this matter with a certain measure of finesse. In retrospect, the note expressing his forgiveness was probably a mistake. Hell, he'd known it would irk her even as he wrote it, but he couldn't seem to help himself. Not when, every time he looked in the mirror, he was greeted by his blackened eye.
Miranda entered the park and strode along for several minutes until she found an unoccupied bench. She brushed away some dust, sat down, and pulled a book out of the bag she'd been carrying with her.
Turner smiled from his vantage point fifty yards or so away. He liked watching her. It surprised him how content he felt just standing there under a tree, watching her read a book. Her fingers arched so delicately as she turned each page. He had a sudden vision of her sitting behind the desk in the sitting room attached to his bedroom at his home in Northumberland. She was writing a letter, probably to Olivia, and smiling as she recounted the day's events.
Turner suddenly realized that this marriage wasn't just the right thing, it was also a good thing, and he was going to be quite happy with her.
Whistling to himself, he ambled over to where she was sitting and plopped down next to her. "Hello, puss."
She looked up and sighed, rolling her eyes at the same time. "Oh, it's you ."
"I certainly hope no one else uses endearments."
She grimaced as she caught sight of his face. "I'm sorry about your eye."
"Oh, I've already forgiven you for that, if you recall."
She stiffened. "I recall."
"Yes," he murmured. "I rather thought you would."
She waited for a moment, most probably for him to leave. Then she turned pointedly back to her book and announced, "I'm trying to read."
"I see that. Very good of you, you know. I like a female who broadens her mind." He plucked the volume from her fingers and turned it over to read the title. " Pride and Prejudice . Are you enjoying it?"
"I was ."
He ignored her barb as he flipped to the first page, holding her place with his index finger. "'It is a truth universally acknowledged,'" he read aloud, "'that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.'"
Miranda tried to grab her book back, but he moved it out of her reach.
"Hmmm," he mused. "An interesting thought. I certainly am in want of a wife."
"Go to London," she retorted. "You'll find lots of women there."
"And I am in possession of a good fortune." He leaned forward and grinned at her. "Just in case you didn't realize."
"I cannot tell you how relieved I am in the knowledge that you will never starve."
He chuckled. "Oh, Miranda, why don't you just give up? You can't win this one."
"I don't imagine there are many priests who will marry a couple without the woman's consent."
"You'll consent," he said in a pleasant tone.
"You love me, remember?"
Miranda's mouth tightened. "That was a very long time ago."
"What, two, three months? Not so long. It'll come back to you."
"Not the way you're acting."
"Such a pointy tongue," he said with a sly smile. And then he leaned in. "If you must know, it's one of the things I like best about you."
She had to flex her fingers to keep herself from wrapping them around his neck. "I believe I've had my fill of fresh air," she announced, holding her book tightly to her chest as she stood. "I'm going home."
He stood immediately. "Then I shall accompany you, Lady Turner."
She whirled around. " What did you just call me?"
"Just testing the name," he murmured. "It fits quite well, I think. You might as well accustom yourself to it as soon as possible."
Miranda shook her head and resumed her walk home. She tried to keep a few steps ahead of him, but his legs were far longer, and he had no trouble remaining even with her. "You know, Miranda," he said affably, "if you could give me one good reason why we should not be married, I would leave you alone."
"I don't like you."
"That's a lie, so it doesn't count."
She thought for a few more moments, still walking as quickly as she could. "I don't need your money."
"Of course you don't. Olivia told me last year that your mother left you a small bequest. Enough to live on. But it's a bit shortsighted to refuse to marry someone because you don't wish to have more money, wouldn't you think?"
She ground her teeth together and kept walking. They reached the steps leading up to her grandparents' house, and Miranda marched up. But before she could enter, Turner's hand settled upon her wrist with just enough pressure to assure her that he had lost his levity.
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